Lathan Lieb is a gym rat.
Just ask his coach and teammates.
“We play basketball every chance we get, either in Portales at Eastern, at Dora, or any open gym,” Dora High teammate Kyler Smith said.
A sixth man last year, the 6-foot-2 sophomore post has blossomed into one of the area’s top scorers for the Coyotes, who were 12-5 heading into Thursday’s game at Melrose. He is coming off a 30-point game Tuesday and scored a career-high 42 points against Eunice earlier this season — the school record is 55 by Shannon Kizer.
Dora coach Ty Thatcher is impressed by the way Lieb works on his basketball skills and to be a better teammate.
“I could take a lot of credit for it, but Lathan works on his game during the summer,” Thatcher said. “He spends a lot of his time at Eastern playing against college level players.
Obviously, physically he is an excellent player. He has really stepped up for us last year as our sixth man.”
Lieb’s strong play is also drawing the attention of opponents.
“We have been playing a really tough schedule this season and everybody is doubling him at times,” Thatcher said. “He’s still able to work for it and he understands how to score and how to use his body.”
Melrose coach Casey Pack said Lieb, who scored 22 points in a win over Melrose in the EPAC Tournament earlier this month, makes his teammate’s better.
“He makes the whole team better,” Pack said. “When you have a kid like Lathan, he gets other kids open. You have to take your medicine in defending him because he is a good player, you can’t guard him one-on-one.”
Lieb said he thinks the Coyotes have a chance to win the Class 1A state title.
“Winning the state championship is going to the tough,” said Lieb, who works at his parents’ dairy farm and hangs out with friends when he’s not in the gym. “We can get it done if we get hot toward the end of the season. Last year, I think we were the fourth seed and in the first round we lost to Animas. They were really good. Hopefully we can win state this year, if not I’ll be here another two years.”
More on Lieb
• Favorite classes: Animal science because I get to dissect animals
• Favorite food: Pepperoni pizza
• What do you like to do for fun: Hanging out with my friends and playing basketball.
• Favorite music: I listen to country, a little rock, a little rap.
• Favorite artist: Kenny Chesney
• Plans after high school: I want to see about playing baseball in college or some place that has a baseball team. Maybe work with my grandpa and dad. They have their own dairy business.
• College of choice: I don’t know, I haven’t thought about it. Colorado, maybe Arizona.
Favorite video games: I have an X-box 360. I play a lot of sports games, but I really don’t have a lot of time to play games.